In a world that is transitioning away from telephone conversations towards other forms of digital communication, being able to communicate effectively via email is a more important skill than ever. However, this skill doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Here are five tips to make you a more effective email communicator.
Make your emails short and easy to read
According to a study by EmailLabs, the average person only spends 15-20 seconds reading an email. Most people read about 200 words per minute, which means that they are likely to only read 50 words of your email. While introductory pleasantries are great when speaking to someone on the phone, they just take up space in an email. Bullet points are useful because they are easy to scan and visually jump off the page.
Have a clear Call to Action
When writing an email, make sure you’re thinking about the next action you want the reader to take and clearly call that out in the email. For example, if your goal is to set up a tour, the last sentence of your email could be “We would love to have you join us for lunch and a tour. What day works best for you to come by?” In this example there is no question in the mind of the reader what the next step is, which is to schedule a tour. Try to avoid having multiple calls to action in a single email. It confuses the reader and makes it too difficult to respond to the email. It’s better to send multiple emails with a single call to action in each.
Create email templates to save time
Chances are you’ll be sending the same email to multiple families trying to either gather more information about their loved one and/or encouraging them to tour. Creating email templates will save you a ton of time compared to writing each email from scratch. Additionally, an email template allows you to optimize your messaging once, then consistently send that to each and every family. If you use Microsoft Outlook, here is an article about how to create email templates.
While using email templates is a great way to save time, you do run the risk of coming across as impersonal. Families can see a canned email response from a mile away, so make sure you personalize each email so it appears that you wrote the email just for them. At a minimum, use the contact and resident’s names in the email. Ideally use whatever personal information you have about the situation to slightly customize the message to their situation. For example, “I know your father is starting to have trouble remembering things. We have a great solution for residents in these circumstances…” You may end up writing a sentence or two per email, but the entire message will look like you wrote it just to this family. Consider using the potential resident’s name in the subject line of the email to grab the reader’s attention.
We know that persistence pays off when calling new families. The same is true when reaching out via email. In the best case scenario, only about 2/3 of emails are read on the first try. So if a family isn’t responding, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested, they simply might not have seen the email. One strategy that has worked for Advisors at A Place for Mom is to send an introductory email, then if the family doesn’t respond, send the exact same email 48 hours later. If the family still doesn’t respond, send a short email checking to see if they are still interested 7 days later, then again 6 days after that if you still haven’t heard anything. At that point, you can wait for the family to respond to you when they are ready to engage.
There will always be families who do not want to talk to you on the phone, no matter what you do. Rather than losing potential residents, being flexible in how you communicate can give your community an advantage. When you email, keeping the message concise, clear, and personalized will ensure the best possible rates of engagement with families.